Riots broke out this afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland following the funeral of Fred “Freddie” Gray today. Freddie Gray suffered a mysterious severe injury at the hands of police while being arrested last week, then passed away.
His death is one in a trend of high profile deaths of African-Americans, minorities, or homeless people detained then killed by police officers. The police appear to be using unreasonable force and arrest procedures.
The string of murders at the hands of police is just the spark of long simmering tensions, according to Black Lives Matter activists interviewed today by Ben Swann at RT.com. People, not just African-Americans, are angry at the lack of accountability of police officers, as time and again, officers appear to be above the law they serve.
According to Dante Barry, Executive Director of Million Hoodies, youths are rioting because they suffer all kinds of violence every day. “Homelessness, police killings, unequal opportunity, lack of medical insurance, and unemployment are all forms of violence,” Barry suggested, because they violate human rights.
On the build-up of riot police including 40 more police officers to Baltimore from Montgomery County, Barry commented:
Safety does not look like more violence in the streets….There’s no need for more officers–it just inflames the situation.
This was the consensus of the RT guests, from independent journalists to black civil rights leaders. More cops does not make things safer, when the rioters are mostly African American youths from the surrounding area. Rather, it will only escalate the situation to the level of Ferguson, Missouri.
Matthew Fogg, a retired Chief Deputy US Marshall aired his view that we are “at the melting point because nobody is seeing anything change.” He mentioned participating in the civil rights marches, and that “we need to keep marching.”
Ronnie Hampton, a retired Washington D.C. police officer mentioned that the source of the riots are the series of incidents leading up to it; that there are also jobs and housing issues behind it; that we need to get to what are the root causes of the situation.
There are too little in the way of jobs and upward mobility for the people in these [disadvantaged] communities, agreed John, an independent journalist who deplored the live scene showing Baltimore police arresting an independent journalist of color.
All the gentlemen seem to agree that what is not needed is more surveillance, more body cameras, more police, but instead, more justice. Instead, the communities of color seem to be “seeing more violence everyday, systemic violence that is marginalizing people further.”
Under the law, an arrested citizen has the right to remain silent, to refuse to be searched, and to have access to a lawyer. These are part of American civil liberties, and Bill of Rights, that citizens be allowed due process. Yet due to the escalation of use of force as a means of resolution abroad, with the growth of Homeland Security and purchase of military grade equipment by police departments, due process no longer seems guaranteed.
According to WBALTV.com, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency later in the afternoon and then activated the National Guard.
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